But for the political spin cycle, Barton's second apology came too late. The damage was done. Barton was, in an instant, the poster boy for why not to give Republicans the majority in the House in the midterm elections.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) launched an online petition: “GOP Congressman Joe Barton had the nerve to apologize to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the 'tragedy' of holding the oil giant accountable for the devastation caused by the Gulf oil disaster. The American people must respond to this shameful display with a strong and unified voice.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs posted an online tweet: “Who would the GOP put in charge of overseeing the energy industry & Big Oil if they won control of Congress? Yup, u guessed it - JOE BARTON."
In a midafternoon press briefing, Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that Barton's comments “fit comfortably among the leadership of the Republicans in the House of Representatives.” She referenced a comment by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, the leading conservative caucus: “BP’s reported willingness to go along with the White House new fund suggests that the Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics."